Blackhawks struggle with chemistry in streak-snapping loss to Ducks

With a number of new faces in various roles — including newly acquired forward Joey Anderson and defenseman Andreas Englund — the upheaved Hawks fell 4-2 in Anaheim, ending their five-game winning streak.

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The Blackhawks fell 4-2 to the Ducks on Monday.

The Blackhawks fell 4-2 to the Ducks on Monday.

Jae C. Hong/AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jujhar Khaira returned from a two-month absence Monday to find the Blackhawks had changed immensely during that span.

“It’s definitely a different team,” he said. “There’s a lot of different guys in here that we didn’t have at the start of the year. ... It’s just going to take time to build that chemistry on the ice. It’d be nice if it happened overnight, but that’s something our team has to go through.”

Indeed, the Hawks’ lineup in their 4-2 loss against the Ducks — which snapped their five-game winning streak — was barely recognizable from even a couple weeks ago, much less before Christmas (when Khaira last played before a back injury). Trades, injuries and illnesses have done a number on the group lately.

Brett Seney was on the first line, Cole Guttman on the second, David Gust on the third and Joey Anderson — who flew in directly from Seattle after being traded by the Maple Leafs on Monday morning — on the fourth. On defense, Caleb Jones was on the first pairing, Jarred Tinordi — making just his third appearance since Dec. 18 — on the second and another debutant in Andreas Englund on the third.

“We’ve got a lot of new players right now, so we’re going to have to find a new rhythm,” coach Luke Richardson said. “But these guys have been resilient. Even tonight, they pushed right to the end.”

Tyler Johnson, one of the relatively few mainstays, scored a power-play to give the Hawks an early 1-0 lead and later assisted on an Andreas Athanasiou power-play goal to tie the game in the second period.

But a defensive breakdown led to a go-ahead goal by Anaheim’s Max Jones with 17.5 seconds left in the second, and the Hawks — who led 27-15 in scoring chances prior to that — never regained their footing. The Ducks, aided by several power plays of their own, generated 11 of the third period’s 16 combined chances.

“Unfortunately, the goal at the end of the second, that hurt,” Richardson said. “We were playing good and we had some ‘O’-zone time...and then we just had to fight uphill after that.”

Added Khaira: “It was a back-and-forth, high-paced game. They have a lot of skill on that side. ... We had our chances, but they didn’t just go in.”

Colin Blackwell pulled his groin in the second period and will be out for “a little while,” Richardson said, further damaging the Hawks’ weak forward depth.

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